It’s Complicated: The Way Women Really Feel About Money
Have you ever asked a woman how she feels about money? Or thought about this question yourself if you’re a woman?
In the personal finance industry, there are reports galore that that try to capture and answer this very question. According to a 2014 Prudential study, women appear to be less worried about their financial security than they were in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Note: this didn’t necessarily mean that they felt overly confident about their finances either.
With women, money and feelings are a big part of my every day work, so I put the question out to my network of women (who are a mix of Gen Y & Gen X) and asked them, “If you could only use one word to describe how you feel about money, what one would you use and why?” The response? Well, it’s complicated. As expected, there doesn’t appear to be just one way women feel about money. The responses revealed a large spectrum of emotional attitudes that we could categorize as follows:
Love / Enthusiasm
For those of you that associate money with love, you’re not alone. In fact, women are twice more likely than men to associate cash flow with feelings of love and generosity according to a Social Indicators Research study. A positive attitude about money means you probably allow yourself to enjoy it and take action to fulfill your money goals, which only heightens your positive sentiments.
Others shared a hopeful feeling about money and the potential gains it offers to a fulfilling life. For these women, money is a channel that connects life and affords certain possibilities. So maybe this is a more neutral feeling about money that is seen as a tool to support the life we want – a tool that can be harnessed and controlled in the direction we determine. This is an empowering feeling and one that is especially effective in aligning money with your values and priorities.
Fear around money can be the result of a feeling of unpreparedness. In many cases, being prepared to weather a future storm by having enough saved in your emergency fund, adequate insurance coverage and a detailed financial plan that keeps you on track can go a long way in curbing feelings of fear. Instead, fears about money can be tempered with confidence that you’ve safeguarded yourself against something bad that could happen.
Stress / Work
Feeling stress, worry or even burdened about money is more common than you might think. According to the Social Indicators Research study, 33% of women think about their finances all the time and 22% lay awake at night trying to figure out a way to spend less money and save more, even if they are already saving money, If you find that your stress levels around finances become too much to bear, don’t be ashamed to ask for help or seek out a financial professional who can help you as much or as little as you want to feel a little less burdened.
Intrigued / Curious
As a financial advisor, I just loved seeing this feeling expressed about money: curiosity to know more. More women than ever are interested in learning about finances and the great news is that there are many resources available, literally at your fingertips, if you’re one of them! According to research done by Prudential, nearly a third of women use financial company websites (31%) and financial news websites (29%) as tools for researching and learning about finances. Nearly one in five (19%) use financial planning websites and 12% of the women surveyed used social media to research financial topics. What the assortment of words and responses show is that there isn’t just one overriding feeling women have about money like these common blanket statements: Women are “scared of money,” “fearful of the market” or “completely in love” with their money. Feelings are varied and evolving, and largely depend on each person’s experience with money. The truth is, you’re not alone in however you feel about money. There is no right or wrong, just recognition of where you are today and where you want to go financially in the future. If you’re a woman looking to kick-start your financial education in a safe place with other women, check out the Work Your Wealth Facebook group where we’re sharing, learning and conquering our money issues on a daily basis. What one word would you use to describe how you feel about money? Tweet me your word @marybstorj!